How to Create a Library With Book Shelves & a Ladder

Written by gail cohen
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Admit it. Every time you see photos of a lofty library setting fitted with a sliding ladder that offers access to leather-bound books tucked into shelves near the ceiling, you sigh and think about what it would take to replicate this look in your home. Such a project is possible, but be forewarned that this luxurious installation could present serious financial repercussions, because once you've filled walls from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, you're probably going to find yourself short on books--just the excuse an avid reader like you needs to make a dash for your favourite bookstore.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shelving units or lumber
  • Carpentry tools
  • Power drill
  • Prefabricated library ladder or lumber
  • Railing
  • Brackets
  • Hardware
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain or paint
  • Wood glue (optional)

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  1. 1

    Measure the wall area you've selected for your library installation to determine the exact dimensions of the shelving units you plan to install. Remove moulding at the floor and ceiling. Strip wallpaper (if applicable) and prepare the walls by patching, sanding and evening out the wall surface. If planning to install just shelves with no backing, finish off the wall with a coat of paint.

  2. 2

    Shop for shelving units that fit the dimensions of your library installation or buy enough lumber to create the shelves from scratch using carpentry and power tools with nails or screws and wood glue to construct enough units to line the wall. Stain or paint the units before bolting them in place.

  3. 3

    Decide between installing a stationary manual ladder or a sliding ladder. Choose your favourite based on look, safety concerns (manual ladders are riskier to use) and space constraints. Purchase an extended length of railing cut to span the horizontal width of the library if you've opted to install a sliding ladder.

  4. 4

    Use your advanced carpentry skills to fasten brackets to junctures along the bookcases so the ladder can be threaded into the railing. Alternately, save time and frustration by purchasing a kit that includes railing components and hardware if you're not as confident about your ability to make one from scratch. Be aware of the fact that kits offer just so many sizing choices, so you may be required to make modifications to components to extend the railing across the width of the library installation.

  5. 5

    Sand, paint and seal your ladder if you're making it from scratch. Drill matching holes into both sides of your ladder top, making the hole you've created larger than the width of the railing so it slides effortlessly. Fill your shelves from top to bottom with your literary treasures and make certain you do your best to add to your collection at every opportunity.

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